MOVES to reduce subsidies for farmers from next year and replace them with payments to protect the environment have been described as “high risk” after the plans were unveiled by the Government on Monday.

The changes to agricultural policy after Brexit, which will be brought in over seven years up to 2028, are being seen as the most significant change to farming and land management for England in more than 50 years.

A new roadmap from Government spells out how direct payments, paid out under the basic payment scheme for the amount of land farmed, will start to be reduced from 2021 on the way to being phased out by 2028.

The Government has committed to maintaining the £2.4bn per year for farming over this parliament, but plans to halve the £1.8bn paid in direct payments by 2024, with the biggest reductions in the top payment bands.

The £900m saved will go towards introducing an environmental land management (ELM) scheme which will reward farmers for sustainable farming practices, creating new habitats and even rewilding land.

There will also be funding for a farming investment fund, which will offer grants for equipment and technology such as robots and new infrastructure such as water storage on farms, and which will open from next year.

A resilience programme will help those most affected by the phasing out of direct payments to help farmers plan and manage their businesses, and there will be a consultation on lump sums for those who want to exit the sector altogether.

NFU president Minette Batters warned the plans are 'high risk and a very big ask'.